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#1
Hello UG Community (I apologize for the long post, if you just wanna get to the point, skip the first two subparagraphs),

This is my first post. Allow to quickly introduce myself: I am Jason and I have been playing guitar for a little over a year now. I am self-taught. I mainly play Metallica, a little Slayer, a little Rammstein and some other riffs. For now, I generally do rhythm and a little lead stuff.

However, I've been stuck with a problem for way too long now. It all started back in April last year, I had learned myself how to speed pick. After a while, I could finally make my pick fly over that low E-string to play riffs like Whiplash and Damage, Inc... These are technically not really complicated to play, but seeing as I had only been playing 3-4 months, I was quite proud of myself for being able to do it already.

There was, however, a major problem. Maybe I could do that stuff, but how? I was putting all the pressure on my index finger. It hurt like a bitch but I was like "meh, I'll find a smoother way to do this". Well, nope. The pain lasted for months until I figured out a new way to pick. Being mainly inspired by James Hetfield, I noticed that he used a 3-finger grip. I never understood how he did that, so I wanted to figure it out seeing as 2 fingers was not working for me anymore. I figured it out and for a month or 2-3, all of my problems went away. Until suddenly, the tendon in my thumb started hurting when I was speed-picking. DAMNIT! Yet again I am stuck...

I've been trying to solve this problem for so long, and have looked up "how to hold a pick" countless of times. Nothing seems to work. My guess is that the joints in my index finger are ****ed up... It could also still be that I put too much pressure on my index finger... Even though I really try not to. I just can't help but at least put some pressure on it to get the job done...

Here's some pics to show you how I hold the damn thing, I either use Dunlop 1.14mm or Mediums. Do you guys possibly have some tips for me, or other things to try? I am absolutely lost and really don't know what to do anymore. I am hesitant to get a teacher, simply because it's expensive.

2 fingers (2 pics):





3 fingers:



Thank you very much in advance for any advice you have.
Last edited by Thrasher22 at Jan 22, 2014,
#2
You have to hold pick tight, but your arm has to be relaxed, otherwise it will hurt (obviously).

And remember, practice makes it perfect, I was unable to do all that speed picking too when I was starting, but now it's the easiest thing for me. Start slow, you have to get the feeling for it.
#3
i pretty much put my thumb across my index finger at right angles. pick in-between them, going parallel (more or less) to my index finger.

more or less like your second picture, except my pick is at a different angle. and i don't bend (well, maybe slightly actually, but it's closer to straight than bent) my index finger at the knuckle closest to the fingernail.

whether i'm doing it right, i dunno, i should clarify. but it works for me.

EDIT^ I dunno, I actually hold the pick pretty loosely. I think being relaxed is the thing.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
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Last edited by Dave_Mc at Jan 22, 2014,
#4
Ease up on the grip man, looks like you're death-gripping it to hell in those pics!
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”


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#6
I'd like to borrow your thread if it's alright. If not, too late.

I've recently encountered this issue with my strumming, that when I do upstrokes my pick always get's stuck on the high E, twists a little bit so my pointing finger gets stuck on the same string. It's really irritating. What am I doing wrong?

I pretty much hold the pick the same way as in the pictures.
#7
Rule of thumb (no pun intended) here: If the flesh under your thumb's nail is going white, you're holding it too tight.
baab
#8
^ I suppose that counts for your index finger as well?

Thanks guys, I've tried the stuff you suggested.

It still hurts though, but my finger was also still sore from playing yesterday. So I guess I'm going to stop playing for a few days and try again.

I'm going to keep experimenting and see a doctor if the pain stays no matter what I try. I just hope I eventually find a solution, because this is really discouraging. I've considered quitting many times because of this stupid issue... but one big part of that issue is that I tense up automatically when playing the faster stuff. I'm gonna try as hard as I can to just relax...
Last edited by Thrasher22 at Jan 23, 2014,
#9
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Ease up on the grip man, looks like you're death-gripping it to hell in those pics!


Yeah. the natural instinct when things get difficult/fast (I do it too ) is to tighten up, when that's the worst thing to do. It's counterintuitive, but trying harder (which normally results in tightening up) makes it worse.

I mean I'm not the fastest player in the world by a long shot, but I can play reasonably quickly, and i'm holding the thing very lightly indeed. for some reason the other day I was thinking about this (unrelated to the thread) and I found that if I gripped my pick with my non-picking hand, it just slid out of my usual pick grip. I'm barely holding the thing at all, frankly, it's just sitting there more or less.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#10
Quote by MetalMullet
I'd like to borrow your thread if it's alright. If not, too late.

I've recently encountered this issue with my strumming, that when I do upstrokes my pick always get's stuck on the high E, twists a little bit so my pointing finger gets stuck on the same string. It's really irritating. What am I doing wrong?

I pretty much hold the pick the same way as in the pictures.



Hold the pick with a light firm grip, and also are you angling the pick when doing up strokes? That might be your problem if you're not angling the pick it causes the pick to fight against the strings causing it to get caught in the string while playing. While strumming you're not suppose to feel resistance it's more like a cutting through butter kind of effect your pick is suppose to just glide through the strings. Angle your pick when up stroking is what i'd suggest you to do.
#11
Hey guys. I think I finally figured out what's mainly causing the pain.

On the pics, the grip looks fairly natural (in my opinion)... but when I looked at it from the other side, I noticed that I was pushing my index finger into my hand, thus compressing the joints! No wonder it hurt all the time... Here's a pic to show you what I mean:



I'm going to try and hold it like this now. Maybe you won't see that much of a difference, but this gives way less pressure:



This is really something to get used to though, so I guess I'm gonna have to re-teach myself how to pick properly (with a grip like this but more importantly, keeping it relaxed). I just experimented a little with this and my index finger feels a lot better (just a little sore, but no joint pain) than when I was practising with the other grip

I think I'll come back to this thread after a week or two to tell you how I'm doing. I really hope I found the solution now, but if you guys see anything wrong with the grip I'm now going to try, please tell me!

Cheers.
#12
if that helps that's great

even in the last pic i can see your forearm is tensed up. it wouldn't hurt to relax a fair bit more (and i'm not sure you need to bend/clench your index finger as much, either). for example, off the top of my head my index finger has an angle of about 120 degrees at the first knuckle and about 160 degrees at the second (i.e. just barely bent and very relaxed).
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#13
Agreed Dave, I still think my advice of less pressure/grip is still going to be the best thing; it's causing tension in your arm and pain in your joints. EASE UP.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”


Album.
Legion.
#14
Quote by Dave_Mc
if that helps that's great

even in the last pic i can see your forearm is tensed up. it wouldn't hurt to relax a fair bit more (and i'm not sure you need to bend/clench your index finger as much, either). for example, off the top of my head my index finger has an angle of about 120 degrees at the first knuckle and about 160 degrees at the second (i.e. just barely bent and very relaxed).


The forearm tension is because I had to put my hand in a really weird angle in order to get a good picture to show you what I meant :P. Will try to not bend my finger as much either, thanks!

Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr

Agreed Dave, I still think my advice of less pressure/grip is still going to be the best thing; it's causing tension in your arm and pain in your joints. EASE UP.


Will definitely try to do that. I guess I'm just going to play slow melodies and try not to speed up for a while, to get used to playing more relaxed.
#16
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Agreed Dave, I still think my advice of less pressure/grip is still going to be the best thing; it's causing tension in your arm and pain in your joints. EASE UP.


Yeah, I agree.

Also I'd say that I don't really hold my pick against the side of my index finger (perpendicular to my fingernail), it's sort of at a 45 degree angle to it, halfway between the side of my index finger and the flat fleshy part of my fingerprint (if that makes sense). I have no idea if I'm doing it right, maybe that's terrible technique, but it does let you relax.

Quote by Thrasher22
The forearm tension is because I had to put my hand in a really weird angle in order to get a good picture to show you what I meant :P. Will try to not bend my finger as much either, thanks!


haha no worries
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#17
Mmmm.... Interesting one this cause its mostly subjective I guess.

I studied Hetfields style a lot when I was starting out and I still play more towards his style than others and it his style is mostly from his right hand.

The things that I noted from your picks:

I suspect the pain you are having is because you are clasping your entire hand around the pick in effect.

Hold the pick using your thumb and the two fingers next to it (which ones are they again?) and then straighten the other two..... Yes it's quite hard at first but flatten em out across the bridge because this will relax the unused tendons in your hand, stop the knuckle joints rubbing together and getting sore and give you much better palm muting technique.

When I first started doing this I taped my fingers together to help me (kirk Hammett still does)

I think that's the issue, your focusing on how your holding the pick but I think it's more the pressure your putting on your hand

I hope this helps you, if not I will analyse my own technique tonight and see if I can work it out for you 👍
#18
Quote by Silord1
Mmmm.... Interesting one this cause its mostly subjective I guess.

I studied Hetfields style a lot when I was starting out and I still play more towards his style than others and it his style is mostly from his right hand.

The things that I noted from your picks:

I suspect the pain you are having is because you are clasping your entire hand around the pick in effect.

Hold the pick using your thumb and the two fingers next to it (which ones are they again?) and then straighten the other two..... Yes it's quite hard at first but flatten em out across the bridge because this will relax the unused tendons in your hand, stop the knuckle joints rubbing together and getting sore and give you much better palm muting technique.

When I first started doing this I taped my fingers together to help me (kirk Hammett still does)

I think that's the issue, your focusing on how your holding the pick but I think it's more the pressure your putting on your hand

I hope this helps you, if not I will analyse my own technique tonight and see if I can work it out for you 👍


Thanks for the tips. I just have to experiment around a little I guess. By the way Kirk actually tapes his hand so it doesn't bust open when playing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1RZtkjprdo
#19
The method of Hetfield on holding the pick is terrible. All of his live footage show that his playing is tensed up.
Do you feel like I do!?
#20
Quote by Thrasher22
Thanks for the tips. I just have to experiment around a little I guess. By the way Kirk actually tapes his hand so it doesn't bust open when playing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1RZtkjprdo


That's pretty cool, I've done that a couple of times from too much rockin!! Point still stands though straighten out your hand and relax - you shouldn't have white fingers from gripping the pick!

Hold it lightly and just keep adjusting your grip if it moves, you get used to doing it subconsciously after a while.

Also something that I think we all didn't mention, have you warmed up enough before letting rip with the speedy riffs?

My hand will do that now of I don't warm up properly and I've played for a long time now. Also, does this only occur when you play guitar or does it affect you in other walks of life too? Could be an underlying issue, like a damaged tendon? Might be worth seeing a doctor about it - what job do you do? Is it repetitive? Could your hand already by tired out before you even start? It might sound crazy but it isn't forced to be guitar related that's causing this.
#21
Before playing, I do these stretches:

http://www.seymourduncan.com/blog/the-players-room/keep-it-loose-stretches-for-guitarists/

Before getting to the quick stuff I do try to play slower stuff (not always though!), but I feel it doesn't really matter.

And yes, the index finger bothers me sometimes but it's nothing extreme. I do a programming study by the way, so I do a lot of stuff with the computer. Doesn't quite help with resting my hands up haha. The index finger tends to get a little stiff when typing, but I feel that if I give it some rest, I should be fine. I have considered going to a doctor many times, but will only do so if the pain actually starts affecting my other activities, which isn't the case right now.

I will keep on experimenting with my grip and try to find something that works. Thanks for the tips.

Quote by EddieHet
The method of Hetfield on holding the pick is terrible. All of his live footage show that his playing is tensed up.

Yup, true. Which is why I'm curious as to how his thumb didn't fall off yet...
#23
I suppose the thing about this sort of thing is that your hand is just that - YOUR HAND, its unique and therefore what works for one might cause you more issues. A bit like papa Het's technique - yes its not really the best way to do it but after 40 years of doing it day in day out... it doesn't seem to be bothering him!

One thing is certain though, if any technique is giving you real difficulty it is often because of something straight forward and almost always, going back to the start and relearning slowly back to the stage you were at will help you realise what's fundamentally wrong that's causing the issue.

also, I know you said a teacher is too much cash, but if you called in to see one and explained the issue he will probably give you some advice FOC.

failing that, head to your nearest jam night and the room will be full of guitarists and like minded fellows, get to know em and they'll be a hive of information - that's what I do!! I learn so much from watching other people play and analysing their styles.
#24
Thanks for the reponse. I definitely think a teacher could help me loads. Also, jamming with other people is something I've always wanted to do... Never really got to it though, seeing as this issue is obviously ****ing with my endurance which disallows me to play for longer periods of time. My overall playing isn't the greatest either, but that shouldn't hold me back from jamming with others every once in a while.

It's also been a couple of days now and I'm still struggling to find a comfortable picking position :/... No matter how relaxed I try to be, the tension in my finger continues to return. I wish I could just rip my hands off and buy new ones lol
#25
I seriously think you need a doctor to look at this, it sounds a lot to me like you have carpel tunnel.

My old neighbour had this from his job, he didnt play, and it was just like your saying. He had an operation in his hand and he was back at work in about 6 weeks. If it is that and you don't deal with it you could end up with serious issues with your hand

Has anybody here had more intimate experience with it first hand? (no pun intended)

Get a doctor, even if its just to rule it out 😱
#26
Thanks, maybe I should do that. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome should also cause tingling and burning, for as far as I know. Didn't experience that yet.

Also, I've just started a new internship, so I really wouldn't want to have hand surgery right now as I can't afford to miss 6 weeks of work. Then again, if it is Carpal Tunnel and I don't have it treated, I could indeed end up with serious issues... this is complicated >___<

I will see if I can visit a doctor sometime this week or else next week.
#27
The old neighbour never had any burning it was just his hand would get like a gentle cramp that became painful if he carried on doing the action that set it off, it was his work that made him have it checked cause they were concerned and it was them who forced him to have the six weeks off.

I don't know enough to say it is or it isn't but there's clearly something going on and I don't believe it's your technique, let me know how this goes I'd be interested to know
#28
Try using more the tip of your index rather than the side. Just let it feel comfortable and not press hard...you have to relax. I know what you mean the way you are holding your pick...I was once going to intentionally adjust my picking style similar to the way you hold the pick now...but found it is too uncomfortable and bothers my index finger.

When I first started picking I never even thought about it...I remember clearly too..the first time I held a pick it just always felt comfortable and I still hold it the same exact way I do now from day 1.

Think of how you hold a pencil...the way it lies between your fingers. I find there are some similarities how one holds a pencil and holding a pick.
#29
Thanks for the tip. I think I'll just stop playing for a while to rest up and then try to practise some more with various picking styles. My dad also said that he doesn't believe it is carpal tunnel, as that is related to the nerves. Right now I just feel that it has to do with tensing up too much in the past. When I switched to the 3-finger grip for a few months, my index finger had the opportunity to rest up and the pain was completely gone. I'll practise some more to see if it starts to hurt more and bother my other activities. Will also do hand stretches more frequently when I'm at my desk.
#30
It sounds to me like you want somebody to tell you what you want to hear rather than actually seeking a solution to this issue.

Carpel tunnel syndrome is indeed damage to the median nerve and affects people in different ways - why does your dad think you don't have nerve damage?

Keep persevering with working around the issue and maybe you'll be lucky and not lose use of your hand. Maybe.
#31
Quote by Silord1
Carpel tunnel syndrome is indeed damage to the median nerve and affects people in different ways - why does your dad think you don't have nerve damage?


Because I don't have any numbness/tingling in my wrist/hand.

I would indeed rather work around the issue if that's possible. I am currently working on two other physical issues already; instability in my shoulders and other posture issues.

You're right though, I should have this looked at... because it doesn't have to be carpal tunnel, it could also be something else. Just hesitant to visit the doc. Maybe I'll need physical therapy, which I am already undergoing for my shoulders. My insurance company only covers like 9 appointments a year and I've had 4 already. That's one concern. Also not wanting to take a few weeks off from my internship; I've only started with it yesterday, what if my boss feels that it's going to take too long for me to come back, and doesn't want me to come back at all? That would ruin a great opportunity to learn, which I will need if I want to finish this study successfully... it would also ruin my chance to get more experienced in the business, which is also essential for my future later.

Went into detail more than I wanted to there. It basically comes down to the fact that I don't want to hear what the doctor has to say, for the reasons mentioned above
Last edited by Thrasher22 at Feb 4, 2014,
#32
I am once again reminded why this country is called 'great Britain'

Why don't you emigrate to here, you can get it checked out free cause we don't believe only the rich get sick.

That's why i was so confused as to why you wouldn't just go and get it looked at - money doesn't come into it here. I could go for an MRI scan and major brain surgery tomorrow and it wouldn't cost me a thing, well not just cause I said so but if I needed it obviously

Incidentally, if your having treatment for the other things can't you just mention it while your there? It might be a complication from what your already having treated that they can sort with it.

Another thought, do you always play in the same position? Have you tried other guitar heights and positions?
#33
Haha, if I had the resources to emigrate to another country, I'd be gone tomorrow. The Dutch government is currently being ridiculous with the medical bills/insurances etc. The bigger concern right now is the internship deal though. My career means a lot to me because the economy is not getting any better and I need all the qualities I can get so companies have more reasons to hire me over the other applicants.

And hey that's a good idea! I could do that. My next physio appointment is next week, I could ask him about it. I'm covered for any general practitioner (I don't know if that's correct) appointment though, so I could always pay him a visit. But if he'd direct me to a physical therapist, that's when the financial problems come in. I should definitely pay a visit though!

Yes I have tried a few positions but to no luck.

Thanks for the tips once again.
Last edited by Thrasher22 at Feb 4, 2014,
#34
There could some other picks you could try, I purposely use fairly hard picks because you can get a louder sound from the strings by picking lighter and therefore not having to hold the pick as tightly to dig in. I use Graphtech TUSQ picks, they are the best I have found for getting the best tone, volume, and harmonics while you pick each string. Far better than the average plastic pick, they are synthetic ivory, and I now cannot go back to using "normal" picks after adding these to my gear choices. Might seem like a small thing but makes a huge difference.
#35
Get yourself some of these - http://www.styluspick.com/

The Stylus Pick really helped me learn how to properly hold the pick and develop my speed. Once I got used to it, transitioning to my regular pick (Dunlop Jazz lll's) was easy.
I'd like to help, but not as much as I'd like not to.


"To be successful, you need to be a good musician. To be popular, you just need to be fashionable" - Ritchie Blackmore
#36
^ Thanks, I'll see if I can find those in my country.

I scheduled a doctor's appointment for Monday morning to check my hands. I'll tell you guys how that went.
#37
There is no single 'right way' to hold a pick. Just hold it in a way that is comfortable for you personally and as people have already said just relax when using it. If you need to then stop playing, stick the pick in your gob and shake your picking hand about.
#38
I know there's not a right way to hold the thing, it just felt like I ran out of options haha. I'll stay away from playing 'till Monday and see what the doc says. I just hope I can one day play comfortably again, because the times when I was playing without any pain were always a shitload of fun. Now, due to the pain, not so much...
#39
Well, I went to see the doc today and it seems to just be overloaded joints in my index finger and an overloaded tendon in my thumb, which sounds a lot better than Carpal Tunnel Syndrome haha. Guess I'll just have to force myself to slow down for now and try to invest in a teacher when I'm doing a bit better financially and have more time.
#40
glad to hear it's nothing more serious
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
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